England and Sri Lanka begin their two-match Test series at Lord's on Thursday. It's a new era for the hosts and an exciting challenge for the visitors.
Venue: Lord's, London
Date: Thursday, June 12
Time: 11 a.m. BST/10 a.m. GMT
It would not be cricket in England if there was not some rain in the forecast. Although it's going to be quite warm for much of the Test, expect some rain toward the weekend, according to AccuWeather. It won't be severe enough to wash out a day, though, and it might not even hit Lord's.
England will step onto the field in Test match whites for the first time since they were hammered 5-0 by Australia.
Since that last defeat in Sydney, much has changed. There’s a new coach in Peter Moores, new faces in Sam Robson, Chris Jordan and Moeen Ali, and a little bit of added spice. There was the Mankading of Jos Buttler in the one-day series and, of course, the poaching of Sri Lanka’s coach Paul Farbrace by England.
As far as a lead-up to a Test match goes, things have been pretty interesting, and it’s all set up for a tense Test. The two sides last played each other over two years ago, in Sri Lanka, with a drawn series the end result.
Sri Lanka’s batting remains their strong suit, with veterans Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene two of the most experienced players in world cricket. Dinesh Chandimal is a young star with a point to prove, and Lahiru Thirimanne is an exciting left-hander who is fresh off scoring 156 in a warm-up game.
England, meanwhile, have the familiarity of Alastair Cook and Ian Bell in their batting line-up, with Joe Root the brightest young star in their midst. Jordan is an exciting young bowler, while Ali will be the spin option with the batting prowess to match and Robson the rookie batsman who might be tasked with batting at No. 3.
It’s all set up for an exciting contest, even for the neutral. For England, it’s a chance to move on from off-field squabbles, while Sri Lanka will want to prove they are not just flat-track bullies.
Joe Root was one of the fighters during the Ashes capitulation and batted his heart out despite constantly being moved up and down the order. The last time he played here was against Australia in 2013, and he notched up a nifty 180.
Kumar Sangakkara's efforts in England have never quite lived up to his efforts elsewhere. He averages just 30.58 in nine Tests here and has only scored two fifties and one hundred. As one of the senior members of the team, Sangakkara will want to rewrite those stats in what could be his last Test series in the country.
Dimuth Karunaratne, Kaushal Silva, Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene, Lahiru Thirimanne, Angelo Mathews (c), Prasanna Jayawardene (w), Nuwan Kulasekara, Chanaka Welegedara, Shaminda Eranga, Rangana Herath, Dinesh Chandimal, Dilruwan Perera, Nuwan Pradeep and Dhammika Prasad.
Alastair Cook (c), Moeen Ali, Ian Bell, Joe Root, Gary Ballance, Sam Robson, Matt Prior (w), Stuart Broad, Chris Jordan, James Anderson, Chris Woakes and Liam Plunkett.
All stats via ESPN Cricinfo unless otherwise mentioned.